Catching Fire

by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire

Children's book review by Tracey Fortkamp

Ages 12 and older (young adult)

The compelling NY Times Bestselling sequel to The Hunger Games

At the conclusion of The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta had just pulled off the ultimate rebellion against the Capitol – instead of fighting each other to the death they conceived a plan for a double suicide – not wanting to give the games a winner.

Instead of being outsmarted by a couple of District Tributes, the Game’s organizers choose to save them both and have dual winners. Needless to say the Capitol is not at all happy about this, because Katniss and Peeta won The Hunger Games by directly defying them.

Catching Fire begins with Katniss and Peeta returning to District 12 among pomp and circumstance. They both move into new houses and are treated as celebrities.

Even though she should be basking in her glory, Katniss senses that something isn’t right and realizes that her act of rebellion against the Capitol may be inspiring uprisings in Panem.

After a heated confrontation with President Snow at her home, she becomes aware that her life and the life of her family and friends are in danger, she considers escape, but in the end reluctantly accepts her role as a symbol of the impending rebellion.

She and Peeta are finally taken back to the Capitol to be primped and prepared for the traditional winners’ tour of the Districts. Back at the Capitol, Katniss comes face to face with the displeasure of the Capitol officials.

When talking with her stylists, she begins to truly sense the effects of the District’s rebellion on the Capitol.

“I begin to question them [my stylists] casually about what other hardships this winter has brought them. They are not used to want, so any disruption in supply makes an impact on them. By the time I'm ready to be dressed, their complaints about the difficulty of getting different products--from crabmeat to music chips to ribbons--has given me a sense of which districts might actually be rebelling... The thought of such wide-spread rebellion has me quivering with fear and excitement."

Once the tour begins, she and Peeta are suddenly face to face with the Districts’ unrest. Katniss becomes more open to her symbolic role as the rebellion's leader and contemplates where it could lead and what the future might hold.

As the tour ends, they are required to attend a special Reaping (picking of tributes) for the 75th Hunger Games, which promises to be like no other Games. Katniss and Peeta are shocked at what the Capitol has in store for them and realize the Games have been engineered to be the Capitol’s revenge against Katniss and Peeta for their rebellion during the last Games.

This twist will leave many readers with their mouths hanging open – mine was.

One of the most appealing things about Catching Fire is that it delves deeper into who Katniss is as a person.

As she relates her story, we get to see her insecurities more clearly and her reluctance at being the symbolic leader of an impending rebellion. We also learn more about the social structures of Panem and life in the Districts.

Collins has expanded on Katniss’ relationships with her family, Peeta and her childhood friend Gale, her sponsor Haymitch (who won the games years ago) and her styling team (especially Cinna), helping the reader to better understand Katniss’ complexities.

In Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins has created another exciting story full of amazing plot twists, intriguing storylines, and of course another cliffhanger ending that will have readers counting the days until the third and final installment of this series is released in August, 2010.

While readers may find that there is not as much action in Catching Fire, the depth of the story makes it a worthy sequel to its predecessor.

Read more of Tracey's book reviews.

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